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Elevating Healthcare: The Evolution of Digital Health in Australia

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The necessity for a comprehensive and interconnected healthcare system has never been more critical – a system that’s inclusive, innovative, and safeguarded. In the landscape of modern healthcare, digital health stands as an integral component, tailored to cater to the diverse needs of all Australians.

The Digital Health Blueprint 2023–2033 has been released, detailing the Australian Government’s decade-long vision for advancing digital health capabilities. It aims to enhance a person-centric, interconnected, and resilient healthcare system for all Australians.

The blueprint charts a clear direction for digital and data reforms, ensuring that:

  • Health information accompanies Australians throughout their healthcare journey, empowering them to engage and make informed decisions about their well-being.
  • Healthcare professionals access a unified, real-time view of patient health information during care.
  • Health data generated at the point of care informs system planning and novel treatments, fostering a more adaptable healthcare system.

The action plan details Australian Government investments aligned with the blueprint’s goals, highlighting key partners and progress. Regular updates will track advancements and include new digital and data investments.

The Australian Government is investing AU$106 million over 4 years to support permanent telehealth services. This will allow GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue consulting with their patients by phone or online.

Telehealth allows remote consultations via phone or video, offering convenience when physical exams aren’t necessary. It’s not a substitute for critical in-person visits but enables discussions with various healthcare providers.

Telehealth is a boon for homebound individuals due to illness or isolation, saving time for patients who would otherwise travel far. It not only offers convenience but also aids in limiting illness spread by reducing physical contact.

In remote areas, telehealth is a vital bridge, saving time and effort for both patients and healthcare providers. It enables consultations via phone or video calls, minimizing extensive travel, and alleviating pressure on health facilities and personnel.

My Health Record serves as a secure digital repository, housing an individual’s health information securely. This digital repository unifies a person’s health records from infancy through adulthood and ageing stages. This platform allows for the storage of crucial data, such as vaccination records, prescriptions, and emergency contacts.

Accessible to Australians with Medicare or an individual healthcare identifier (IHI), My Health Record requires a myGov account for entry.  Maintaining strict privacy, My Health Record limits access to the individual, designated healthcare providers, and authorised individuals chosen by the user.

Serving as a secure platform, My Health Record facilitates access to crucial health data for providers and allows both users and providers to contribute. It integrates Medicare details, including information from the Australian Immunisation Register (such as immunisation history statements or COVID-19 digital certificates).

Moreover, this resourceful tool extends its utility to emergencies and travel, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection or via telephone. For telehealth consultations, healthcare providers can seamlessly reference My Health Record, particularly beneficial for individuals unable to leave their homes.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that My Health Record does not supersede existing health records; regular consultations and discussions with healthcare providers are still vital. Initial access may reflect minimal information, but individuals can collaborate with their doctors to incorporate comprehensive medical histories into their My Health Record during consultations.

Australia’s Digital Health offers electronic prescriptions as a digital counterpart to traditional paper prescriptions, presenting a secure and user-friendly alternative. Patients have the option to request an electronic prescription from their healthcare provider during their next prescription needs or opt to have it sent directly to their Active Script List (ASL). Most pharmacies are equipped to dispense medications using this electronic prescription system, ensuring widespread accessibility and convenience for patients.


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